Dubbed the “Gut Health Challenge,” the marketing campaign is about more than just moving product, said Isothrive CEO and cofounder Jack Oswald. It will help shine a light on gut health and what consumers can do to improve it, while carefully sidestepping the sort of disease claims and treatment advice that has derailed some other consumer-oriented testing firms like 23andme.
“This helps people focus on gut health as a health topic. The fact is that you can see how things will change within your own gut,” Oswald told NutraIngredients-USA.
Isothrive, which is based in Healdsburg, CA, recently debuted a consumer brand intestinal health product based on maltosyl-iso-malto-oligosaccharide (MIMO). The molecule is produced via a fermentation process and is present in small amounts in traditionally fermented foods such as beets, Oswald said. The prebiotic fiber’s presence in these foods is one of the reasons for the traditional association of health benefits connected with their consumption, he said.
“The original work on this fiber and how to produce it was done at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge,” Oswald said. “At LSU they started with traditionally fermented vegetables to isolate MIMOs. You will find some of this molecule in those products. Over the course of human history, it has been one of the most prevalent prebiotics in the human diet.”
LSU experts developed a fermentation production process that uses organic, non-GMO sugar and maltose inputs to delivery a MIMO-rich syrup-like product, which in the Isothrive packaging is called a ‘nectar.’
Making sampling easier
In the test challenge, consumers will receive a 30-day supply of Isothrive along with the test kit from UBiome. Making the taking of biological samples painless is one of the things that drove 23andme’s meteoric initial rise; in that case the company swapped collecting spit samples for the process of drawing blood. In the Isothrive gut challenge, the stool sampling protocol has been refined to be as easy as possible for squeamish consumers, Oswald said. No more floating pie tins in the toilet.
“When you do your business you have to wipe anyway, and you take the tiniest amount off of the toilet paper with a Q tip and swirl it in a vial and mail it off,” he said.
The challenge instructs consumers to take a baseline sample at the beginning of the process, and another on the final day of Isothrive supplementation. The goal to to demonstrate how the product can shift the balance of their gut microbiome. In the scientific community the jury is still out on what this means, since the makeup of the human gut microflora is so individualized. For example, is the microbiome profile of an obese person the reason they struggle to control their weight, or is it merely a side effect of their condition? But Oswald said there are broad microbiome aggregates that have been identified among different subsections of the population and comparing the test results against those could be instructive.
“This isn’t being used as a diagnostic tool or to determine healthcare options. But when consumers have a couple of samples they can compare them side by side with average aggregates, and see how they compare with people like smokers, heavy drinkers or heavy meat eaters. On the other side, they can see how their gut microbiome compares to that of a vegetarian,” he said.